Don't Forget the Shoes!
How many times have you seen a guy who looks like he’s dressed to the nines – nice work, bro – but then your eyes catch his feet and…what? A perfectly good outfit is perfectly pointless if your shoe game is terrible.
Tennis shoes with dress pants, the old dusty black “dress” shoes you bought 12 years ago with a suit, FLIP FLOPS with just about anything except for shorts and a t-shirt – you’ve seen or are guilty of at least one of them.
Shoes are one of those things that are important but not always noticed. Sometimes you can have a nice pair on and people will comment on how nice they are, other times they’ll go fully go unnoticed. But: if your shoes are dilapidated or just look bad with the rest of your ensemble, they will be noticed by everyone.
Some fashion gurus say that the shoes are the most important thing in a man’s closet. I don't know if I agree with that, but I do know that they are definitely just as important as anything else. Shoes can make or break the outfit as easily as anything else you have on, and they’re the most common place for guys drop the ball. Time to fix that, gentlemen.
If any of your shoes look like the following images, get off your computer, go to your closet, pick them up, and walk the directly to the trash. Don't even donate these shoes to Goodwill- no one deserves that.
So with all that said, how do you know what a good pair of shoes looks like? Here are a few characteristics to look at:
Below are some of your more classic shaped dress shoes, which are always in style. You can vary from this slightly, but don't over exaggerate and get too pointed or too bulky on the toe box (or too square, like a platypus bill).
A style of low-heeled shoe or boot with multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers & decorative perforations (or "broguing") and serration along the pieces' visible edges.
Lacing: Open vs Closed
The open lacing front, also known as the derby or blucher, is slightly more casual. Open lacing is usually seen more often with sport coats, blazers, or trousers and a shirt. The lacing is connected by two pieces of leather that are sewn on separately, which leaves an opening between them.
Closed lacing is typically the dressier of the two, usually worn in more formal settings with suits. However, keep in mind that today, fashion is more lenient, so either one can generally be worn either way. Closed laced shoes are also known as balmorals.
There are two types of soles to choose from- leather and rubber. Leather is the more "classic" dress shoe sole, and is also a little more popular with the fashion gurus out there. They do look better, but sometimes it's hard to find a comfortable one.
Though they can be more comfortable, be careful about purchasing a rubber-soled shoe that is too casual to wear with a suit. If you are looking down or at the side of a dress shoe, the leather sole and rubber sole should appear essentially the same. If you can see treads on the rubber sole from the side (or especially the top), then it shouldn't be worn with a suit. And quite frankly, unless it's a boot, I can't imagine you need that much sole on a casual shoe anyhow.
Most guys wear black shoes because it's simple. Brown shoes, however, are actually much more versatile, and typically look better than black shoes do. You can dress a pair of brown shoes up with a navy or charcoal suit and and you can dress them down with a pair of dress jeans or khakis.
I didn't say you can dress down a pair of black dress shoes, did I? If that's you, stop doing that now.
Generally speaking the darker the shoe, the more formal it is. What do you wear with a tuxedo? A black shoe. It is also important to note that there are many shades of brown and the darker the brown, the more formal the shoe. Additional tip: remember that the belt needs to match the shoe. It doesn't have to be 100% exactly the same color, but they need to play together.
7 easy tips for shoe shopping:
- Chemical smells: if the shoe comes out of the box smelling unnatural, almost like gasoline, that probably isn't a good thing.
- Leather interior: look inside the shoe, is it lined in leather or a synthetic substance? This is an easy place to cut costs for the manufacturer.
- Laces: if they are flaking and feel weak right out the box, consider that an overall sign of the shoe's quality.
- Finish: hopefully it is some variation of a natural looking color. Blotchy or cracking is the alternative.
- Symmetry: are the the details in line with each other and centered when they're supposed to be?
- Weight: there are of course some expensive shoes that are lightweight, but make sure the weight doesn't feel like they're made of styrofoam.
- Flexible leather: some higher quality shoes require a break in period with thicker and tougher leather, but if you are shopping for cheap shoes make sure the "leather" is flexible right away, if not then it will age even more poorly than the alternative. Leathers should seem to almost look like they are begging for us to hydrate them with conditioners and oils, synthetic leathers won't be soaking anything up.
Special note about tennis shoes:
I must inform you...wearing tennis shoes for a night out is prohibited. If you fall under one of the categories below, you are granted clemency:
- High school student or younger
- Have really bad feet that need large comfortable soles
If you don't fall under one of those categories, then stop wearing those Adidas shoes to a nice dinner. Time to man up and get some nice shoes for the day job & and nice shoes for your poor wife during date night.
Below are some shoes I have in my closet